KUALA LUMPUR: In a historic move, the Court of Appeal successfully heard an appeal via teleconference in a lawsuit involving a bus crash.
As the movement control order (MCO) is still in place, the judiciary announced on Wednesday (April 22), that it would be moving to virtual hearings and the proceedings would be live-streamed on its official website.
Lawyer Azizi Shaghir, who participated in the very first online hearing representing the respondent, said the proceedings were done via Skype.
"It is the same experience submitting before the normal course of open court. As I see it, there is no prejudice on rights to submit since both parties’ submissions were equally heard," he said when contacted.
The proceedings began at 10am on Thursday (April 23) where a three-man bench, led by Court of Appeal judge Justice Kamardin Hashim, presided over the appeal.
Justices Lee Swee Seng and Azizah Nawawi were also on the panel.
Apart from Azizi, his co-counsel Nurul Dalilah Darmawi, lawyer KF Ee and deputy registrar Norsalihah Sulaiman also participated in the teleconference.
It was learnt that the judges were taking part in the teleconference from their homes.
Azizi, who took part in the proceedings from his office, said there were no hiccups to using an online teleconference provided that the internet line was stable.
Before the hearing began, both parties verbally agreed on the mode of hearing.
The three appeals heard were Zhao Fangliang v Syarikat Pengangkutan Satu Hati Sdn Bhd, Jin Haifang v Syarikat Pengangkutan Satu Hati Sdn Bhd and Zhu Cunhua v Syarikat Pengangkutan Satu Hati Sdn Bhd.
The appeals were heard together as they involved the same facts and question of law.
This was in relation to a bus crash in Johor, on Oct 7,2015, where four tourists from China were killed.
Azizi and Nurul Dalilah represented the respondent Syarikat Pengangkutan Satu Hati, while Ee represented the appellants.
After hearing submissions from both parties, the panel unanimously dismissed the appeal on grounds of no merit.
The hearing lasted an hour and 15 minutes.
On Wednesday, the Chief Registrar's Office said in a statement that selected cases would be heard online and live-streamed in a pilot project.
This enables the public to view the proceedings similar to an open court and to ensure continuous access to justice.
Since March 18, court complexes nationwide have been shut down, with the exception of fresh charges, miscellaneous criminal applications and revision of lower court decisions, due to the MCO to curb the spread of Covid-19.